All by his lonesome

Washington Post: Rudi Greenberg: 21st November 2013

Given that he released “Wise Up Ghost,” a collaborative album with The Roots, this year, it’s strange that Elvis Costello has been going at it alone on the road lately. Then again, the 59-year-old singer-songwriter longs to defy convention. Since he’ll perform solo at the Lisner on Friday, we’ve rounded up some of Costello’s songs about — what else? — loneliness.

‘Almost Blue’

This jazzy, stripped-down lament about a doomed romance is one of Costello’s most affecting songs: “There’s a girl here and she’s almost you/ Almost,” he sings over a sparse piano, bass and drums. Costello doesn’t belabor his point: he says all he needs to say in two eloquent, dark verses, and then he’s done.

‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’

Costello didn’t pen this one, but he did perform the standard with Burt Bacharach (who co-wrote the song with Hal David) for their cameo in 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Their schmaltzy take manages to make pain and sorrow seem upbeat.

‘I Wanna Be Loved’

Ignore the cheery synths and cheesy saxophone solo and you have one of Costello’s most desperate songs. “Why must I be so lonely?” he bluntly states at the outset. Later, he reaches a conclusion: “I guess I’m a victim of loneliness.”


As much about disappointment as loneliness, Costello’s best-known song is about a man reconnecting with a woman he long ago let go — a woman whose life goes south as the song progresses and whose world, famously, is killing her.

Lisner Auditorium,730 21st St. NW; Fri., 8 p.m., sold out;